22 September 2011

Out of the Overflow--A Theology of Hospitality Part 3

It's all well and good to talk about the need for hospitality in our culture, but the question is why does hospitality even matter? Can't we just all do our own thing?

There is a short, direct answer straight from God's Word found in 1 John 4:10-11.

"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."

God so loved us, meaning, in that way God loved us to the uttermost. He sent His only beloved Son to die in our place on the cross. How then can we not love one another, knowing the extent of God's great love for us? If we have been extended and received such magnanimous hospitality from the One who would have had every holy and justifiable right to let us, the human race, die in our sins with no rescue or remedy, then we would be rude, arrogant, selfish, fools to be anything but humbly gracious and welcoming to others. A lack of care and consideration for others would be the proverbial slap in the face to God who loved us while were still His enemies and demonstrated His love to us through Jesus' death while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).

Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:11-13 that before Christ reconciled us to God we were separate from Christ, strangers to the covenants and promises, without hope, and without God. Then Paul writes this glorious "But" statement: "BUT NOW in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."

Isn't that amazing?!!? We were far off, distant, separate, estranged from God, but in Christ we are drawn near...so near that Paul says that God "predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself" (Ephesians 1:5). WOW! Did you catch that? We went from being completely alienated from God and His promises to being his SONS!!! What greater illustration of hospitality do we need to compel us to be hospitable to others? Out of the overflow of a thankful heart to God for lavishing loving hospitality on us through Christ, we should lavish hospitality both on those near to us as brothers and sisters in Christ and to those who are still far off.

If we need any more convincing or prodding to believe that extending hospitality should be our joy and delight, then we need only look as far as Ephesians 2:19 to motivate us.

"We are no longer aliens and strangers to Israel, God's people, but fellow citizens with the saints and of God's household".

Because of Christ and God's hospitality, we are now citizens of God's Kingdom, and so, like Israel, have the responsibility and privilege of showing the same hospitality to others that God demonstrated to us. Out of the overflow of a thankful heart that we are no longer foreigners, but a part of God's Kingdom and out of empathy to those who are, we should offer God's kindness and and hospitality.

"So I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy...Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality" (Romans 12:9-13)

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